'A much-delayed government report failed to identify the cause in a spate of arm malformations across France, and despite calls for a more in-depth study, scientists say a definitive explanation may never be found.
Commissioned last year, the 265-page report examined 18 cases of congenital deformities since 2007 in four different regions across the country, studying whether they were linked by a common cause, such as environmental pollution, toxic drug exposure, or genetic damage.
“Scientific studies screening, questionnaires and local environment testing have been conducted by Sante Publique France which has not identified an obvious cause,” the public health body, which had been asked repeatedly about the case by RT, said in its summary.
The commission did admit that there is a “cluster” of cases in the commune of Guidel in the north-western department of Morbihan, where three babies missing arms were born in 22 months. But for the region of Ain in the east of the country, where eight such babies were born between 2009 and 2014, researchers said there was no statistical anomaly or telling pattern.
But parents and activists who were present during the unveiling of the report were not satisfied, with some saying that only a superficial study was conducted, that some cases were excluded due to arbitrary cut-off points, and that the criteria for why some cases were dismissed as statistical noise were never explained.
“I did not expect big news, but I am surprised by the removal of ‘clusters’, it seems scandalous,” Samuel Bernard, the father of a daughter born without a hand in Morbihan, told France Info.
Bernard complained that an independent body was not put in charge, and bemoaned the lack of communication or investigation of specific hypotheses.
Emmanuelle Amar, the director of the malformations register of the Rhone-Alpes region, who helped bring the story to prominence, continues to believe that pesticides or other manmade chemical agents could be to blame.'
Read more: Parents of French babies born with deformities angry after official probe yields no answers
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